Local Government Act
Bulletin No.: G.2.1.0Date: October 2000
OCP Process and Consultation
The new Local Government Act provisions regarding the official community plan
(OCP) development and adoption process and consultation during the
preparation of an OCP reflect the principles established in 1997 to
guide the Municipal Act Reform process. In particular, these
- local government accountability for enabling citizen input on issues of
concern to them during the development of an OCP or OCP amendment;
- improved inter-local government relationships on planning and land use
management issues; and,
- appropriate provincial government involvement in the development and
amendment of OCPs in instances where the provincial government has a clear
responsibility or interest.
amendments, which will come into force January 1, 2001, establish
requirements for consultation with citizens and public authorities
during the development of an OCP, streamline the adoption procedures for
OCP bylaws and authorize the chair of a public hearing considering an
OCP bylaw to establish procedural rules.
- Section 879 requires
local governments to provide one or more opportunities for
consultation with persons, organizations and authorities it
considers will be affected when developing, amending or repealing an
OCP. The local government must determine if this consultation should
be early and on-going, and, specifically, if consultation is
required with adjacent jurisdictions, First Nations, school
districts, improvement districts, greater boards (ie. water
districts) and the provincial and federal governments and agencies.
This consultation is additional to the legislative requirement for a public hearing.
- Section 882 is amended to
set out new, more streamlined, adoption procedures for both
municipal and regional district OCP bylaws. The following changes
are particularly noteworthy:
- The required majority for each reading of a
regional district OCP has been clarified in subsection (2) -- each
reading must receive the affirmative vote of a majority of all directors
entitled under section 791 to vote on the bylaw.
- A number of specific requirements for
referrals of a proposed OCP bylaw to other local government
jurisdictions have been removed because these are no longer necessary
given the new consultation requirement noted above.
- The requirement that an OCP for an area that
includes land in the Agricultural Land Reserve be referred to the Land
Reserve Commission is continued. However, the Minister may make
regulations defining areas and circumstances in which this referral is
not required, and providing terms and conditions for this exception.
This is in keeping with the Minister's authority to define areas and
circumstances in which approval of a regional district OCP bylaw is not
required. For further information on the reduction of provincial
approvals in other areas, see Bulletin Number G.1.0.0
(Planning and Land Use Management: New Directions).
- The requirement to consider an OCP after
first reading, in conjunction with its financial plan or capital
expenditure plan and any applicable waste management plan, is continued
but this is now supplemented by a new provision (sub-section 5) enabling
a local government to consider a proposed OCP in conjunction with any
other land use planning and any social, economic, environmental or other
community planning and policies.
- Sections 875 to 877
describe the purpose of OCP, provide authority to include in an OCP
any statements and material considered appropriate and require
consideration of applicable provincial policy guidelines (see
Bulletin Numbers G.2.0.0
(OCP Purpose and Content) and G.2.2.0
(OCP Provincial Policy Guidelines).
- Division 4 of Part 24 requires public hearings for some OCPs and sets
out the procedural requirements in relation to these (see Bulletin Number
G.4.0.0 - Public Hearing Procedures).
- The new requirements for
consultation with citizens and public authorities suggest a new way
of "doing business" for local government when developing or amending
an OCP. The new provisions recognize that local governments
generally use other mechanisms besides the required public hearing
to seek input from the public and other jurisdictions. The new
legislation emphasizes the value of a local government seeking input
from other authorities at an early stage in the planning process, as
opposed to receiving comments in response to a referral after first
reading, when the OCP has already been drafted.
- The intent of the new
consultation requirement is that input will be obtained from those
that will be affected by an OCP early in its development, in order
that any concerns can be more easily addressed. The requirement
allows each local government to develop its own approach to
consultation. Local governments can vary the type and number of
consultations and even decide who should be consulted with, so long
as they ensure that consultation opportunities are provided for
those they consider will be affected.
- However, it is now
mandatory that local governments specifically consider possible
pre-public hearing consultation with certain specified parties (eg.,
First Nations, adjacent local governments) when developing an OCP
and that they consider whether consultation should be early and
ongoing. When making choices about consultation, councils and boards
may wish to take a number of factors into consideration, including:
- Is the bylaw under development a new OCP, or
is making minor or major amendments or repealing an existing OCP?
Consideration of the potential impact may well drive out a different
consultation need or strategy for actions that affect large numbers of
people or diverse interests than for actions that affect only a small
segment of the community).
- What parties can reasonably be considered to
be affected by the OCP? Local governments may want to think in terms of
the statutory requirement to specifically consider certain organizations
as a starting point for decisions about who will be affected rather than
an exhaustive listing of who will be affected. For example, "citizens"
or "residents" are not listed as a mandatory group to consider, but
would be affected by virtually all OCPs, and so consultation
opportunities should be developed. Consideration might also be given to
establishing protocols with adjacent jurisdictions or other government
bodies to help to clarify when those governments are affected by an OCP,
and the level of consultation required in different circumstances.
- How effective will various forms of
consultation be? Effective consultation at this stage can not only lead
to a smoother public hearing process, but should also result in better
OCPs. This will be particularly true if the consultation is early enough
in the process that issues raised during the consultation can be
adequately reviewed and if the consultations are frequent enough that
the results of these reviews can become part of future consultation
- How transparent are the consultation
decisions? Since these new consultation provisions impose a number of
statutory requirements on councils and boards (eg., must provide
consultation opportunities; must consider whether opportunities should
be early and on-going; must specifically consider consultations with
specified groups) and since the adequate fulfilment of these
requirements could become the subject of a court challenge, local
governments may want to take particular care to ensure that their
decision-making process with respect to this consultation is
transparent. So, for example, all staff reports on consultation should
be well documented and the report should advise council or the board of
whether to and whom to consult. To ensure that evidence of
"consideration" can be shown in court proceedings, the council or board
minutes should list the decisions regarding each of the mandatory
- In developing effective
consultation, local governments may want to prepare a comprehensive
consultation policy that addresses such things as: fairness and
equity, how to define consultation in different circumstances, who
must and who should be consulted, how different interests want to be
involved, and how the results of consultation will be considered.
- In order to provide
further guidance to local governments, the Minister of Municipal
Affairs will establish a provincial policy guideline on consultation
for consideration of local governments developing an OCP in 2001.
- In order to more successfully integrate various planning initiatives, local
governments may want to assess what other planning and policies
within their own jurisdiction, or other affected jurisdictions,
might usefully be considered during the development or amendment of
- A transitional regulation
will clarify that where a local government has held a public hearing
for any OCP bylaw amendments, repeals or a new OCP, but not adopted
the bylaw prior to January 1, 2001, the additional consultation
under section 879 will not be required.
For all other new bylaws and amendments or repeals to existing bylaws,
any new procedural requirements must be followed as soon as the
applicable provision is brought into force. For example, after
January 1, 2001, any OCP bylaw amendments or repeals, or development of
new OCP bylaws will require local government consultation with persons,
organizations and authorities the council or board consider will be
affected. Because these requirements place an obligation on
councils/boards to undertake consultation in addition to the public
hearing, local governments will want to be particularly careful with
bylaws in process, to ensure that if the bylaw has not gone to public
hearing by January 1, 2001, the local government has complied with the
new consultation requirements.
Local Government Act References:
Primary Sections: Section 879, 882
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